It was a rare sight on the Indian social media circus last week. India's internet population; both employed and unemployed, came together in support of Bollywood in the fight against the CBFC's dictatorial propaganda to curb a filmmaker's voice.
We fought the age old belief system of the men in power and won. It was heartening to see the Bombay High Court calling out the CBFC on its tendency to control film viewers and filmmakers.
Pahlaj Nihalani, the inconsequential CBFC chief, was seen spewing out bitterness after the High Court Judgment by saying:
CBFC is meaningless now. Doors for films with obscene, vulgar content are open now.
And, as all of us know, just a couple of days after the Bombay High Court judgment, a copy of Udta Punjab, with the watermark of the Censor Board, was leaked on the internet.
Now, this was a tricky situation for us Indians, who on one hand embrace Torrent sites and on the other, fight authoritarianism.
Internet Indians were confronted with a serious moral dilemma:
Should we save money and just download the movie when it's right out there for free?
OR, should we support the film we have fought for and actually go to the theater and pay our hard-earned cash to watch it?
Anurag Kashyap, one of the producers of Udta Punjab, urged people on his Facebook page to wait till Saturday before downloading the film:
I urge (you to), wait till Saturday till you decide to not pay for the film, don't download and share, curb the curiosity for two more days.
But here's where we disagree with Mr. Kashyap. This was one movie our generation has fought for and feel incredibly strongly about. Downloading it, even after Saturday will render the fight pointless.
#Udtapunjab is a realistic drug-based movie, and stands a chance— Megha Kaushik (@meghakaushik111) June 8, 2016
People banning the reality,is in a way clamming it to be true! #UdtaPunjab— Priyanka Sharma (@iam_pri) June 7, 2016
While the popular opinion on the internet was on the side of Udta Punjab with people updating statuses urging others to go and watch it in the theaters, there were others who defended their right to download Udta Punjab like every other movie.
People who are hell-bent on downloading Udta Punjab, are calling the others hypocrites for taking a stance, all of a sudden, when everyone has been downloading movies from the internet, all their lives.
But, is this really hypocrisy? Or, is it a welcome change in the collective morale of the Internet Indian?
Whatever the case is, the truth remains that we keep bashing Bollywood and will continue to do so.
Whether we like to admit it or not, we envy Hollywood. We hate Bollywood for propagating star-kids and mindless 100 crore movies.
But, here's the thing, if we download Udta Punjab to a point that it affects the movies overall revenue by a large scale and the movie ends up failing commercially because of us, we will no longer have a right or moral high-ground to bash Bollywood.
We deserve Grand Masti and Dilwale if we download films like Udta Punjab.
It's specifically important for Udta Punjab to work because its success would mean more movies like Udta Punjab, more movies that push the boundaries of cinema, more movies that relentlessly show the reality of our time.
If we can't curb our desires to download this one time, we can bid this new wave of Indian cinema goodbye.
In this case, hypocrisy is to download a movie you wanted the CBFC to release without any cuts, to betray a fight, right when it matters the most.
If Udta Punjab succumbs to the losses caused by the internet leak, it wouldn't be Nihalani's fault. The fault will solely rest on our shoulders.
And, even if Udta Punjab turns out to be a bad movie, it's an experiment that should be encouraged because honestly, we'd enjoy an interesting failure much more than a boring, by-the-numbers success story.
Every time Udta Punjab is downloaded from the internet, one sequel of Grand Masti is sanctioned.